I got some absolutely brilliant news this week! Danielle in our office told me that Wacky Races is back!!!! For you poor, uninitiated (‘uneducated’?) people who don’t know what that is, Wacky Races was the bestest, most fantastic cartoon series ever!
I watched it avidly as a kid sitting on the edge of my seat wondering (and often worrying) who would win the weekly race. Would it be The Ant Hill Mob, The Gruesome Twosome, Professor Pat Pending or Luke And Blubber Bear first over the line? Would Peter Perfect step in to help Penelope Pitstop in her hour of need, and would the evil Dick Dastardly and his mischievous sidekick Mutley stop them all getting over the line (they never did!)? For whatever unexplained reason (well, unexplained to a 10 year old me!), they stopped being broadcast, and until the delights of You Tube were just a distant (happy) memory.
But now they’re back and the kids of today (and adults too!) will be entertained in a ‘fit and proper’ way as we watch to see who can get ahead of the others and be the recipient of that black and white flag – I can’t wait to watch them with my 10 year old mates Christopher, Louis and Henry (or on my own, if they’re not that bothered!)
So, what’s this got to do with business? Well, InnovatiON is the ‘successful exploitation of new ideas’ and it’s 3D Characteristic #7. Our research shows that 3D Businesses establish simple processes for making innovation work and I think Wacky Races return highlights a simple process for innovation that you could apply to your business.
This epic milestone in cartoon history coincided with a meeting I had a with a client when we were discussing customer service. “We always used to send a ‘thank you note’ to our customers when they placed their first order with us.” explained the MD, “Our customers used to love it – they often commented on what a nice touch it was. I’m sure it helped us win more business.” “Why don’t you do it now?” I asked. “I don’t know” he replied, “I guess we forgot.”
They’d stopped doing something that was successful and that can happen so easily. As businesses grow and change, they often ‘forget’ things. Unfortunately it’s sometimes those things that made them successful. It’s nobody’s fault. Life moves on, we get ‘busy’ and those great things, like Wacky Races, just slip away into the dim and distant past.
I bet there are some great things in your business that you don’t do anymore. Things that customers loved for example, or that staff really valued, stuff you did that motivated or inspired them. It’s often those little things that ‘made a difference’, but for whatever reason, you’ve stopped doing them. They’ve simply been ‘forgotten’, and worse, many of your current people never even knew you did it.
Look, I’m not one for harping back to the ‘good old days’ (apart from when it comes to brilliant action packed cartoons), but sometimes it can be useful to revisit some of the ideas and processes that worked well, but you’ve stopped doing. It’s a simple ‘innovation’ process we call ‘Back To The Future’.
Here’s how it works:
Take time out (get others involved too) and list some of the stuff that you used to do: the things that made customers feel special, helped you win business, made your place fun and special, and made you money!
What were the benefits? What made it work? Why did you stop? Could it work again? It’s not about blaming people if they don’t do it anymore, it’s about reflecting on why and how it worked and whether it’s worth trying it again.
This means looking at what you might need to do to make it work today. Sometimes it might be just ‘doing it again’, ‘modernising’ it or remodelling it to suit your current circumstances or current ‘communication channels’ with customers (on-line?). Find ways to make it relevant today.
It’ about getting others involved. The real danger here is that it’s perceived as ‘when I was a lad, this is how we did it….’ . It’s vital you avoid that! So, work on demonstrating the benefits, why it worked, and how it worked.
What needs to happen for it to become ‘a way of life’ in your business again? Give a named individual responsibility for making it happen. Is there a training need? Set targets and monitor progress. Make sure that the resources are in place to get it working again.
Don’t let it become a ‘3 minute wonder’. Monitor progress; champion your champions, namely the people who adopt it and make it work; talk about it regularly and get it on the agenda; make it become a ‘habit’; ensure that you celebrate success when it works well.
Clearly, just looking backwards is no way to run a business. This is simply one process that can help introduce or reintroduce innovation into your business. Try it, it could work for you. Why not do it now? Identify one thing that you used to do personally that ‘worked’. Try getting it working again for you now.
In the words of that nasty baddie, Dick Dastardly….
“DON’T JUST STAND THERE…. DO SOMETHING!”